Last night I had the privilege to meet the two fellows behind the Ottolenghi experience, as they like to describe it. They are Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi and they cook and operate Ottelenghi the very popular café in Notting Hill (London). Yotam is Israeli-borm, Sami is a Palestinian born in Jerusalem and together they cook, collaborate on many successful cookbooks and they are proudly sharing their unique take on Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisine.
My friend Helen, of Food Cabbie food truck (here in Toronto) won 2 passes for an exclusive “meet and greet” with Yotam and Sami and the brand-new kitchen at Chatelaine’s offices here in Toronto. We were greeted right from the elevator and then taken to a board room where champagne, Chatelaine fair-trade coffee and treats were offered.
The fifty-plus guests were directed to the kitchen where we were introduced to the Ottolenghi duo who then proceeded to make today’s salad of fennel, pomegranate and sumac. Fennel has a mild anise flavour (which I adore) and pomegranates are now in season and sumac is a tart red powdered spice used to add sour accents to dishes.
As Sami stated, try the recipes in their books first, see if you like them then make your own adjustments. This is the cooking philosophy I adhere to as well: try a food, a recipe then make any changes according to your tastes. Something I encouragement people to do with my soon to be released cookbook as well.
The recipe for this fennel salad and many more dishes can be found in the Ottolenghi cookbook, to which I also received an autographed copy of. Buy this or one of their books but I promise you it won’t be your last. Below is the recipe which appeared on Chatelaine’s web site. Enjoy!
Ottolenghi’s Salad With Fennel, Pomegranate and Sumac
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp sumac
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 cup tarragon leaves
2 tbsp coarsely chopped parsley
2 medium fennel bulbs
1/2 cup Greek feta cheese, sliced
3/4 cup pomegranate seeds (about ½ a pomegranate)
- Whisk lemon juice with olive oil, sumac and salt in a large bowl. Season with fresh pepper. Stir in tarragon and parsley.
- Remove feathery fronds from fennel, reserving for garnish. Thinly slice bulbs lengthwise and toss with lemon mixture.
- Arrange fennel on individual serving dishes. Layer with feta, then pomegranate seeds. Sprinkle with reserved fennel fronds and additional sumac, if desired.
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